Goldmans hires EU's 'Super Mario'

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The Independent Online

Mario Monti, the former EU competition commissioner, is to join the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs.

He will advise its bankers on European and global public policy issues, and take a seat on Goldman's research advisory council at its global markets institute in New York, where he will look into the role of capital markets in society.

Goldman said Mr Monti's appointment would foster greater debate about market-based solutions to the economic and social challenges confronting developed and new market economies. He will work at the bank for about one week per month for an undisclosed salary.

Peter Sutherland,the chairman of Goldman Sachs International, said: "Mario is a highly respected policy-maker and economist and brings to Goldman Sachs the benefit of his considerable experience."

Mr Monti, who was educated in Milan and at Yale in the US, established such a fearsome reputation as the EU's chief competition watchdog that he earned the nickname "Super Mario". He spent much of his 10-year stint in Brussels - first as commissioner for the EU internal market, then as competition commissioner - fighting France and Germany.

If he was not challenging them over state aid to France Telecom, Alstom, WestLB or Deutsche Post, he was repelling attempts to derail car industry reforms or abolition of duty-free sales.

Famously, he fined Microsoft a record £340m in 2004 for abuse of the its dominant position in the global software market.

The Italian, celebrated for his dedication to opening European markets to competition, is president of Milan's Bocconi University. He also chairs the Brussels European and Global Economic Laboratory.

Mr Monti is also tipped as a future Italian finance minister should Romano Prodi's centre-left opposition oust premier Silvio Berlusconi next year. In July 2004, Mr Monti snubbed an offer from Mr Berlusconi to serve as finance minister in his government. At the time, Mr Monti was still nursing hopes of continuing his career in Brussels.